Some of you may be aware that I have just returned from two weeks in Wales, my ancestral home, and the place most of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. While I was there I buried my father’s ashes in the small cemetery in our family village, about 300yds from the farm where he was born. I delivered a eulogy. It was, as you can imagine, a heavy and emotional time.
On the way back, after Aer Lingus had routed us through about 3 hours of airport queues and obstacles for the 40 minute flight from Manchester to Dublin, I watched the movie Interstellar. It’s a space drama with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. None of that is really important. What matters is that Michael Caine’s character delivered a stirring rendition of Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Being in a sentimental and highly-Welsh frame of mind, and having delivered a eulogy whose main message, via my father, was “life is for living,” this accidental encounter with Thomas’ verse had quite an effect on me.
As I get older and my body shows the signs of hard wear, I am confronted with a regular choice, whether to ease up or push on. This isn’t really a choice though. Ease up AND push on is the most likely way forward, always forward. It’s the only way. It is the only choice.
For me that means holding onto the bike, all the bikes, as long as I can. I can concede that it will be increasingly less prudent to spend time off the ground, what with the fragility of aging bones, but cultivating tolerable risk is, to me, a big part of living (and riding) to the fullest.
I won’t know until my own end whether I have adequately raged against the dying of the light, but today it’s very much in my mind, to remain willing, to keep taking risks, to do things that make me happy even if less well than I might have wanted.
On my last day in Wales I walked back over to the cemetery with my wife. There are some lovely trees there and lazy sheep wander up and nibble at the hedge. The grass is always green. I said to her, “I wonder if this where I’ll end up, right here somewhere,” not in a sad way, but in a hopeful and realistic and yes, sentimental kind of way, and then I thought, “But not yet. There’s still a lot to do.”
This week’s TCI Friday wonders if you think you’re raging hard enough. I’m no one to judge. In the end, it only matters what you think and feel about your own time here, but where are you on the rage-o-meter out of 10. I’d put myself, currently at a 7. There is raging still to do.